Who is Don Draper? "People tell you who they are, but we ignore it because we want them to be who we want them to be." What do we want Don to be? Where do we want Don to end up?
In a cast of cynical characters set in cynical NYC in that most cynical of all businesses, advertising, Don is king: “I hate to break it to you, but there is no big lie, there is no system, the universe is indifferent.” "People want to be told what to do so badly that they’ll listen to anyone." “What you call love was invented by guys like me … to sell nylons.” And yet, what are Don's biggest fears? "That I never did anything, and that I don't have anyone."
Don may not be a great believer in--or at all good at--romantic love. But he is capable of love. Some of his best moments are those with women with whom he is not having a romantic relationship. Though his and Peggy's relationship has been tumultuous ("It's your job. I give you money, you give me ideas"), it has also had moments of real friendship and support, admiration, and respect: "Because there are people out there who buy things, people like you and me. And something happened. Something terrible. And the way that they saw themselves is gone. And nobody understands that. But you do. And that’s very valuable." Don's relationship with Sally has been similarly stormy. But he clearly loves her, and seems in the later episodes to be really trying to understand her and create a bond with her. He gives her the best advice a father could give a daughter: "You're a very beautiful girl. It's up to you to be more than that."
There has been so much speculation about where Don ends up as Mad Men comes to a close. It's unlikely Matt Weiner will leave us with a definitive answer. I don't expect or want Don to commit suicide, or to turn out to be some mysterious D.B. Cooper figure. I like the idea of him driving off into the sunset, with the possibility of finding some actual, real, lasting happiness: "We know where we’ve been, where we are, let’s assume that it’s good, but it’s going to get better, it’s supposed to get better."
* "I have to make sure I look like The Man." | 1960s fedora from CalloohCallay
* "I was an orphan. I grew up in Pennsylvania, in a whorehouse." | vintage photograph collection from ThirdShift
* "Somebody very important to me died." | 1940s striped suitcase from 86home
* "This device isn't a spaceship, it's a time machine. It goes backwards, and forwards … it takes us to a place where we ache to go again. It's not called the wheel, it's called the carousel. It lets us travel the way a child travels--around and around, and back home again, to a place where we know are loved.” | 1970s Kodak Carousel from msjeannieology
* "People were buying cigarettes before Freud was born." | Lucky Strike poster print from EntropyTradingCo
* "I've started over a lot, Lane. This is the worst part." | Korean War era Army shirt from GoodWareCompany
* "I don’t know. It’s your life. You don’t know how long it’s gonna be but you know it’s got a bad ending. You have to move forward. As soon as you can figure out what that is." | 1960s black bakelite bar ashtray from OceansideCastle
* 1960s two piece suit | EndlessAlley
* "But what is happiness? It's a moment before you need more happiness." | 1960s Hawaii travel ad from MinistryOfArtifacts
* "Why is this empty?" | set of 6 roly poly cocktail glasses from SkinnyandBernie